Bad policy makes for bad Internet

Companies and Governments have an enormous capacity to make bad decisions that will create negative impacts for their customers and citizens. If we unite and draw attention to these, we can make an impact and reverse these decisions.

Picture: Richard Feller

Bad policy makes for bad Internet

As a member of the i2Coalition, the Consumer Electronics Association and a supporter of Internet freedoms I, and the team here at Hedgehog Hosting, champion efforts that push for legislation that has a positive impact on the Internet.  As we continue to work with our elected officials we will no doubt have a voice when these future governance issues arise.  The positive note here is that all the stakeholders will have a place at the table.

Now pre-SOPA and pre-PIPA, there was not a place set at the table for the general public.  When it looked as if these bills were going to pass, the public outcry was so overwhelming that they had no choice but to listen to the will of the people and pull the bills from even getting a chance to be voted on.  The people spoke and the government and our elected officials listened.  Isn't this what our system of government should be?

Isn't that the way it should be with most situations.  Take a look at Instagram.  Here is a company that has a huge following.  They had approximately 16.3 million active daily users in mid December of 2012.  Then, in the course of one month, they upended their vibrant community of picture posters with the announcement of a new Terms of Service.  Part of this new ToS stated that Instagram now had the right to sell their users photos to advertisers. There was public outcry after this announcement and Instagram very quickly felt the backlash.  Some users suspended using the service and some users left the social networking site altogether.  Now, as of mid January 2013, Instagram currently has only about 7.6 million daily users.

Now to be fair, Instagram had 41.5 million monthly active users in mid-December 2012 and has grown to 46.1 million monthly active users presently.  And yes, this shows that more people are using Instagram.  But, clearly these users are not using the site as often.  And by the way, it also did not hurt that they reverted back to their old Terms of Service after only one week of constant backlash from their user base.

The issue here is that this one boneheaded decision caused an upheaval of a very loyal user base and now has directly impacted their business model. For a site that relies on ad revenues, it does not matter how many users they have, if those users are not using the service, the company is not making money.  While Instagram can boast almost 5 million new members in a month, they cannot boast increased usage.  Even worse, the usage is down over 50%.

While it can be said that there are other factors to take into account for the dip in usage, such as the holiday season being heightened in December and the  the return to work keeping people busier in January, it cannot be overlooked that this decision had a direct impact on Instagram.

To come back to my original point...  Bad policy makes for bad Internet, or in this case, bad business as well.  How is this combated?  By the people who use these services. Now, the government is a service.  We pay for these services through our tax dollars, much the same way that Instagram users pay for their services through dollars paid to advertisers.  If the collective will of the people wants to enact change, they CAN and WILL do it!  It has been shown with Instagram and even more vocally and publicly, it has been shown with the putting down of SOPA and PIPA a year ago yesterday.  Happy anniversary to Internet Freedom!

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The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object. - Thomas Jefferson


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For your convenience, the following PDFs are available for download. Please contact Richard Feller via telephone at (703) 218-4170 or via e-mail at info@hedgehoghosting.com for any additional information.

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